Turkish government targets Dersim

Dersim, with its resistant Alevi-Kurdish population, is permanently targeted by the Turkish state's special war policy. The people in Dersim are to be assimilated through religious orders, associations and pro-government institutions.

The name Dersim is associated with uprisings, resistance and genocide in Turkey and North Kurdistan. Around 35,000 people live in the provincial capital, which has been renamed "Tunceli" by the Turkish state. Dersim is considered to be one of the centers of the Alevis. The Alevi-Kurdish population has never bowed to Turkish rule. Therefore the historical and cultural peculiarities of the people in Dersim have always been the target of a special war policy. While on the one hand a brutal war is being waged, on the other hand the culture of the region is being attacked through the establishment of religious orders, schools and foundations.

Munzur University: focus of assimilation

Munzur University is one means of doing this. The educational institution has become the center of orders and parishes of the Turkish regime. From there they spread through the city with the aim of assimilation. When Erdoğan’s government was still working with Fetullah Gülen’ sect, the policy of assimilation ran primarily through their educational institutions. The professors at the university were also often Gülen supporters. These have since been exchanged by representatives of Erdoğan's AKP party.

For example, the Birlik Vakfı (Unity Foundation) is used for indoctrination. Ahmet Zülfü Türkoğlu, a lecturer controversially known for an alleged sexual assault, has been appointed head of this foundation. The director of Munzur University, Ubeyde Ipek, openly admitted the function of these structures: "If we don't fill the void in Tunceli, other organizations and political groups will do it."

Religious order mentality and rape

The Dersim Research Center (Dersim Araştırmaları Merkezi, DAM) criticizes these developments in the city and reported on associations of the pro-government Islamist orders Menzil and Süleymanci, the notorious Ensar Foundation and several other organizations that carry out religious propaganda work in Dersim. The orders open their own shops and trade structures and continue to expand in the region. The research center also sees a connection with the increasing number of cases of sexual assault and rape by members of the police and army in Dersim.

Ensar Foundation: Islamism and Sexual Assault

The Ensar Foundation is closely linked to the Erdoğan family. There are particularly close ties with Erdoğan's daughter Esra Albayrak and his son Bilal Erdoğan, who has been involved in various corruption scandals, and who head the Turken Foundation established by Ensar.

Ensar runs educational institutions and dormitories and has been implicated in a sexual abuse scandal at their facilities in 2016; one teacher was sentenced to life imprisonment. Although further scandals followed, the Ensar Foundation still receives lucrative government contracts and millions in municipal financial donations. The then Family and Social Affairs Minister Sema Ramazanoğlu (AKP) tried to put the abuse of 45 pupils at the Ensar Foundation into perspective with the words: “The fact that such an incident happened once is no reason to soil an institution that is doing a good job."